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Abstract

When compared with other high-income countries, gun violence is clearly a problem in the United States. Although homicide appears to be a more serious issue compared with other countries, suicide causes many more deaths per year than homicide does and therefore deserves at least as much attention. Discussion of gun policy has also focused heavily on mental illness, and although this is a potential factor in gun violence, we must also recognize that most people with mental illness are not dangerous. Other factors that contribute to risk of gun fatalities include social environment and access to guns, which are important points for policy intervention. Possible effective responses include expanded background checks and waiting periods. However, policies which reduce the number of guns available will not be possible until cultural change is made.

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